Picking on a Hapless Press

Just when we start to feel a little lonesome, we’re reminded how many fellow journo-scolds live beside us in the blogosphere.

Today’s beef is fast becoming an old reliable: The media’s treatment of “intelligent design.” Scoffs Atrios, pointing to a piece in yesterday’s Washington Post: “Kudos to our wonderful media for treating this as a he said/she said issue, where one side is the entire legitimate scientific community and the other side consists of a bunch of good Christian liars trying to dress their religion up as science.”

Pandagon’s Jesse Taylor has CNN in the crosshairs, fuming that the cable network “should stick to space shuttle launches.” Seems Taylor observed some back-and-forth on “intelligent design” between CNN’s Bill Schneider and Daryn Kagan and deemed it “emblematic of just how ridiculously poorly equipped the media is to host any real debate on controversial issues, particularly when one side is being patently dishonest.” (No arguments here on the “poorly equipped” part, especially as it pertains to cable news). Schneider, writes Taylor, never raised “the validity of the idea brought up, or any educational background about what the purpose of science is,” and he continually referred to the debate as “‘teaching both sides’ and/or ‘teaching different viewpoints.’”

Before you conclude that Schneider must be carrying water for creationists, consider — if you will — John Podhoretz’s claim at The Corner that Schneider’s water-carrying is actually for Democrats. “I just watched a 10-minute segment on the Ohio special election on CNN,” Podhoretz writes, “and all I can say is, Republicans are blessed by their opposing team — and that includes CNN’s Bill Schneider. They genuinely believe that a four-point loss is a victory.”

At Captain’s Quarters, Captain Ed chews out the Associated Press for “editorializing with headlines that have no substantion [sic] in the story.” The headline in question — “Ohio Families Fed Up With Loss of Marines” — accompanies a story that, says Ed, does not contain sufficient evidence of families being “fed up” (only one woman, of several quoted, expresses something resembling fed up-ness). Ed concludes that “the AP needs to get a new headline writer, new editors, or probably both.” (Ask and you shall receive: as Pandagon’s Jesse Taylor points out, the offending headline has changed. “Five hours ago, Ohio families were fed up with the constant stream of deaths in Iraq,” Taylor notes. “They’re now apparently mourning. That’s crack reporting — apparently, the families in question have moved past the ‘fed up’ stage of grieving.”)

And finally, a little something to balance out all the journo-scolding and, perhaps, engender some compassion for the press. A reminder, via fishbowlDC, of the conditions under which one subset of the MSM — the White House press corps — labors. Seems fishbowl obtained a memo from the head of the White House Correspondents Association soliciting a “print pooler to cover [the Vice President’s] trip to Saudi Arabia” — a gig which, fishbowl observes dryly, the VP’s office has “gone out of its way to make … attractive.” According to the memo, “the Saudis are not allowing any coverage of … meetings. Not even stills … In addition, [the VP’s aides] tell me there’ll be no access to Cheney on either the outbound or the return trip,” and “it’s expected that whoever volunteers for this trip will land his/her news organization with the airfare for the trip, and any other expenses.”

Hmmm. An expensive halfway ‘round the world trip to a country pretty much in lockdown, with the promise of no news whatsoever emerging, either before, during or after.

Who wants it?

Liz Cox Barrett

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Liz Cox Barrett is a writer at CJR.